6. Overall consumer experience with the ESI scheme

HP Open MindMain benefits of the ESI scheme

As might be expected from the key motivations to take part in an ESI activity, participating consumers give highest priority to economic benefits when evaluating the scheme overall; that is, their participation delivers them savings on their energy bills, and they value the availability of rebates and/or reduced costs that enable them to undertake energy saving activities that might not have been possible otherwise.

Beyond these economic considerations, the key benefits that consumers note include:

  • Environmental impacts;
  • The quality and efficiency of the service provided to them; and
  • The convenience and ease of installation.

What they see as the main benefits are largely universal, in that they do not vary significantly between different product categories, nor indeed do they vary greatly between different demographic sub-groups. One interesting difference is that the economic benefits of reducing energy bills appear to be growing in importance as a perceived benefit, being mentioned by:

  • 25% of the 2009 cohort;
  • 34% of the 2010 cohort; and
  • 38% of the 2011 cohort.

Chart 30. Perceived benefits of participating in the ESI scheme

C1. All things considered, what do you consider the main benefits to you and your household of going through installation under the Energy Saver Incentive scheme? Base: All respondents, n=1000

 Perceived benefits of participating in the ESI scheme. This bar graph shows 12 perceived benefits. Savings on utility costs 32%, Able to receive rebates/reduced costs to install/not able to do otherwise 13%, Environmentally friendly/helps the Environment 13%, Great service/service people efficient 12%, Cost - free service/appliances 11%, Being energy efficient/saves energy 11%, Saves water 9%, Everything done/organised for me/was done quickly 8%, Easy installation 7%, Was good/fine/happy with it 7%, Nothing 11%, Don't know 2%. Speech bubbles to the right of the graph,

Main problems experienced with the ESI scheme

Only one in eight participating consumers claim to have experienced problems with the installation of a product under the scheme, which indicates that as a consumer experience the ESI has performed very strongly. For the remainder who did experience any problems, the primary issue has been product quality, followed by concerns about the way that installations were carried out.

The nature of these concerns is relatively severe, suggesting that across a total population of some 670,000 installations, as many as 50,000 households may have had products installed that they felt were of inferior quality, or that later proved to be short-lived. However, at the point of survey, most installations were reported by consumers to be working fully, including 97% of water heating installations. This suggests that APs may have corrected initial problems, or that consumer concerns with product quality may not have carried through to actual functional problems by that time.

The overall rate of 12% of participants experiencing problems varied considerably between different sub-groups:

  • 19% of water heating installations; and
  • 21% of those in Hot Regional locations.

The two largest activities had lower rates of problems being experienced, at 10% for lighting and 9% for shower roses. However, those that experienced problems with such installations were as likely to mention product quality or installation problems as the key source of dissatisfaction.

There is some indication that, as the scheme has slowed from its launch year of very high activity, the extent of problems has diminished slightly, falling from 15% of the 2009 cohort, to 14% in 2010, and 12% in 2011. However, it is also possible that this is simply a factor of the 2009 installations having had more time for problems to become apparent.

Chart 31. Main problems experienced with the ESI scheme

C2a Have you experienced any problems associated with the Energy Saver Incentive installation?

Base: All respondents, n= 1000

C2b. What problems associated with the Energy Saver Incentive installation, have you experienced?

Base: Respondents who experienced problems with the ESI scheme, n=138

Main problems experienced with the ESI scheme. This bar graph shows 6 problems experienced. Supplied with poor quality/inferior products/products didn't function properly/last long 57%, Had initial issues that were later fixed by installer 12%, Installation left damage (e.g. leaks, holes in walls, etc) 12%, Installation not carried out correctly 9%, Contractors dishonest/didn't complete work as stated 4%, Unable to meet all my requirements/requests 4%.

Summary

Consumers' experiences with the ESI scheme appear to be predominantly positive; they see clear benefits in terms of economic gains (reduced energy bills, ability to receive discounts), an environmental contribution, and the quality and efficiency of the service that has been provided to them. Most participating consumers have had a problem-free experience, confirming this positive overview.

However, for those who do experience problems, the primary issue has been product quality, with the way that installations were carried out a further source of discontent. This aligns with the experience of those who have had product failure since their ESI activity was completed, and suggests that a minority of APs might be "cutting corners" in terms of either the quality of the products that they source, or the way that the installation is carried out. Both hold the potential to weaken the positioning of the scheme over time if not addressed.

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Page last updated: 24/06/20